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Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn to occur Monday evening

Posted at 9:23 AM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 10:23:15-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An event happening in space is garnering quite a bit of attention here on earth.

You may have noticed lately, but the night sky is looking a little bit brighter thanks to something you could call a bit of a space race.

Here on earth, it takes us about a year to go around the sun for one orbit. But for the other planets, they're a little bit slower. For Jupiter, that orbit takes almost 12 years and for Saturn, that same orbit around the sun takes almost 30 years.

As Saturn and Jupiter appear to line up during their orbits, it's an event called the "great conjunction." This happens about every 20 years, but this year is a bit different and associate professor of physics at Creighton, Jack Gabel, explains why.

“They'll be at a historically close distance this time. So for reference, the last time there was a conjunction 20 years ago, at closest approach, they were about 12 times further away than they will be on December 21," said Gabel.

As we get to the evening of December 21st, it will look like the two planets have become one giant star, but it's still technically two planets -- just looking so bright, like the brightest star that you'll see. The good news is you don't need any special equipment to see this.

"Without any special optical aid, all you need to do is know where to look, and go outside and have a clear view of the horizon and everybody can view it themselves," said Gabel.

For the best view, make sure to look towards the southwest about an hour after sunset on Monday, December 21 to see this great conjunction.

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